Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
1 Liberty def. 8 Kennesaw State
5 North Alabama def. 4 North Florida
7 Stetson def. 2 Bellarmine
6 Florida Gulf Coast def. 3 Lipscomb
1 Liberty def. 7 Stetson
6 Florida Gulf Coast def. 5 North Alabama
1 Liberty def. 6 Florida Gulf Coast
In what looks to be another head and shoulders above situation, Liberty has been an absolute force this season. The Flames are (at the time of writing) one of only 11 teams with 20+ wins and one of only 16 teams to go undefeated at home. During ASUN play, Liberty has led the conference in free throw percentage and three-point percentage. On the defensive side, the Flames allow a conference-low 59.9 points per game and an opposing field goal percentage of 39.6%. With strong units on both ends of the ball, Liberty looks like a clear favorite who is hoping to make waves deeper in March.
Florida Gulf Coast
Eight years ago, one of the most memorable and unlikely runs happened. 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast knocked off a two and seven seed in consecutive rounds. The team later dubbed “Dunk City” eliminated heavyweights Georgetown and San Diego State in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Since then, the Eagles haven’t recaptured that level of glory but have had two March Madness appearances. FGCU hasn’t won an ASUN title since 2017 but has a shot with the right path. KenPom ratings give the Eagles the second best adjusted defensive efficiency in the conference. They split their regular season series with Lipscomb but both were road games. If Liberty gets knocked out unexpectedly, FGCU is a team that could capitalize.
Matchup to Watch
Bellarmine vs Stetson
For 11 straight seasons, the Bellarmine Knights have made it to the NCAA Tournament. However, they have been Division II up until this season. They can’t qualify for the Big Dance as they are in the reclassification process but they can still have impact on their development. The Knights have one of the best effective field goal percentages in the country but play a very different offense than their first-round opponent. Stetson has the 25th-largest percentage of points from three-point shooting (38.4%) whereas Bellarmine ranks much lower (26%). The Hatters will have to be firing on all cylinders to get past one of the slowest tempos in basketball. Since the ASUN reseeds each round, the ripple effects from this game are massive.
Featured Image courtesy of liberty.edu
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